A Dream Realized – Texas A&M Athletics

Peering up at the five intertwined rings as he represented Mexico at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Angel Martinez smiled ear to ear realizing all his hard work and commitment had paid off.
Growing up on the outskirts of Monterrey in San Nicholás de los Garza, Mexico, Martinez described himself as family-centered. His parents helped him every step of the way and his mom drove him to and from school or swim practices. He grew up surrounded by athletic siblings including his sister, Imelda Martinez, who qualified for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
“I always saw my siblings as the greatest athletes. I went to the Olympic village in 2008 and it was amazing. I said that I want to be here and do this myself,” Martinez explained after watching his sister’s success. “I always had in my mind that I wanted to make the Olympics.” 
In search of continuing both his academic and swimming career, Martinez was exploring universities when Texas A&M head coach Jay Homes offered him a spot on the team. When describing why he chose to come to college in the United States, Martinez explained how in other countries, it’s hard to study while also participating in sports–whereas, in the states, athletes are assisted by academic advisors and given resources to allow student-athletes to excel. 
While absorbing the campus and traditions of Texas A&M, Martinez was rather quiet his first semester given that was still getting a grasp on the English language. During these times of drastic change, Martinez leaned on his coaches and teammates.
“Having a team was helpful because you’re surrounded by 30 other people all the time. Being a part of the Latino culture, I am very family-oriented and here in the U.S., I didn’t have that, so I replaced it with my friends. Becoming close to them was really helpful.”
Martinez started his collegiate career by earning SEC Freshman of the Week honors in 2015 after posting three top-four finishes in a double dual meet. The four-time All-American constantly improved as he bettered his school record in the 200 fly multiple times. His personal best of 1:41.25 still ranks as the second-fastest time for A&M. His senior year, Martinez broke three school records in the 200 fly, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay. The 400 medley relay time of 3:04.86 with Shaine Casas, Benjamin Walker and Adam Koster remains the fastest time in program history.
Following graduation, Martinez grieved the passing of important people in his life including his father in 2020, along with friends of the family and his grandmother in early 2021. The coronavirus was also a big obstacle for Martinez. The losses he endured and being away from swimming for that long was a wake-up call and made him more passionate about committing to the goals he had set for himself.
“I stopped swimming for about three months because of the pandemic,” Martinez said. “It was really hard to swim and to train. We couldn’t do anything besides stay home because everybody was quarantined so that was really hard but I really wanted to make the Olympics. It was my dream since I was 12 so I was like, ‘this is not going to stop me, I really want to get it done’. Sometimes you don’t want to get out of bed at 5 a.m. to go train but it is worth whatever it takes for you to attain your goal.”
As Martinez overcame these hardships, he received uplifting support from his coaches and teammates, leading to his success in attending the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“It’s something that so many people have asked me, but it’s not something you can really put into words,” Martinez said about his time in Tokyo. “I just remember walking into the Olympic pool and seeing the Olympic rings. I mean, that’s something I had dreamt of throughout my whole life, the fact that I was swimming in the Olympic pool was so exciting. I just remember I couldn’t stop smiling.”
Martinez represented his home country in Tokyo and is heavily rooted in his family’s heritage. He visits Mexico about once a month.
“Obviously, my family is the first thing I always go back to Mexico for, but the food is so good compared to the U.S. The food my mom makes is just so good.” 
The Aggie continues to grow into his professional career, post-graduation. Martinez noticed a big change in himself after college. He describes his college self as being more “go with the flow” but now with the goals he has set for himself, he realizes what aspects he should hone in on to achieve them.
As a pro athlete, he still trains at the Student Rec Center Natatorium with his A&M coaches. The Rec pool has been the home to the Texas A&M men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams since 1995. The facility recently underwent a $50 million renovation that increased the activity and support space by 23 percent to 413,000 gross square feet. Hosting a variety of conference, national and even international swimming and diving events, the space offers an abundance of resources to athletes.
“The facilities here are amazing. I also get along really well with my coaches. I think they understand what I need. I know what I need and we communicate pretty well. They take a lot of my input. Also, being able to push the guys [currently on the team], it’s all something that I built for them so it’s just really exciting. My friends are here and I had some other pros transfer here, just so that they could train with me and that helps me stay motivated.”
“I’m getting older and all the guys in college are 18-19 and they recover way quicker than I will,” Martinez said describing his training. “But it’s really nice to have them next to me so I can train and get better. I’m also focusing on performing at big events because it’s so different swimming here in your own lane than getting on the blocks at Worlds and performing.”
Although still in Aggieland, the swimmer is preparing to continue his travels around the world as he trains for opportunities to represent Mexico such as the FINA Short Course World Championships in December in Australia. He also looks forward to becoming the first two-time Olympian in his family as he trains for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

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